Rhode Island’s kids suffered greatly during pandemic
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The mental health and education of Rhode Island children suffered greatly last year during the coronavirus pandemic, and children of color were the hardest hit, according to data released Monday by Kids Count, the national child advocacy nonprofit.
“Unacceptable gaps continue to exist between children of color and white children in nearly every Factbook indicator,” Rhode Island Kids Count executive director Elizabeth Burke Bryant told The Providence Journal. “These gaps have persisted because of systemic racism and barriers to opportunity that must be addressed and dismantled to ensure that every child can succeed. The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on stark economic, education, and other disparities and challenges to children’s success.”
The number of calls to Kids Link RI, a 24-hour emergency mental health and behavioral referral network, was up 22% in 2020 from the previous year, the organization said.
The number of children enrolled in kindergarten, considered a critical first step toward fluency in reading and writing, dropped 11% in 2020 from the previous year, similar to national trends as families kept their youngest home or waited for schools to open in person.